Devotion: 1 Kings 17:8-16After Elijah's time at the brook Cherith he is sent north and west by the Lord to the pagan country of Sidon to a village called Zarephath.
"Then the word of the LORD came to him, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.' " -1 Kings 17:8-9 ESVThe sending of the man of God to pagan country was a great indictment of the northern kingdom of Israel and its gross paganism. In essence, the Lord sends his man to a pagan widow because Israel is certainly no better and in many ways worse. While the pagan widow worshiped false gods in ignorance, Israel, led by the wicked King Ahab, worshiped false gods in full knowledge of YHWH and His commandments.
There is an interesting reversal here as well. God's Word calls over and again to care for widows, the fatherless and the sojourner (e.g. Exodus 22:21-24, Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Now, Elijah is being called to sojourn among pagans and a widow will care for his needs (we will get back to the fatherless child later). God will provide for his man and do so in a powerful way.
"So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, 'Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.' And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, 'Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.' And she said, 'As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.' " -1 Kings 17:10-12 ESVThe prophet is obedient to the Word of the Lord and travels to the village of Zarephath. The drought that had stricken Isreal had also impacted this area, leaving little to eat and drink. When Elijah is about to enter the town, he sees a widow gathering up small bits of firewood. Knowing the Word of the Lord the prophet asks to the woman to provide for his needs (food and drink). The widow believes Elijah's requests are either ignorant or outright offensive.
Her response is to invoke the name of YHWH, but to attribute him to Elijah, i.e. 'your God.' Her oath is meant to be a strong indicator of the truthfulness of her claim that she lacks food for herself and her son and so has none to spare for Elijah. The meal she is about to prepare will be a last supper of sorts before a long painful death from starvation. She has no hope that things may improve and has accepted that she will die. She does not appeal to her gods nor to the man of God to intervene. She is matter-of-fact in her assessment of the situation. Yet, God is at work!
"And Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, "The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth." ' " -1 Kings 17:13-14 ESVElijah tells the woman to put away her fear. He politely (for the time) requests that the widow do as he has said and makes a promise. The jar of oil that is about empty will never run out and the jar of flour will always be enough until the Lord sends rain upon the earth again. In other words, God will care for this widow, this fatherless child and this sojourner because His people, Israel, have failed to live up to their responsibility under the Law. This should point us to Christ who steps in to do what we have failed and cannot do for ourselves through his active obedience to the Father even to the point of death on the cross.
"And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah." -1 Kings 17:15-16 ESVThe widow, for her part, trusts the Word of the Lord that came through the prophet and does as he requested. Sure enough, God keeps His promise and the sojourner, the widow and the fatherless child are cared for once again.
Friends, I hope the Scripture lesson today will lead you to trust in the promise of hope you have in Christ and lean on that promise in times of plenty and want.
The song is "All Things New" from Red Mountain Music.
News for You:
- The Children's Christmas Tea is scheduled for 12/1 at noon. Please RSVP today if you plan to attend.
- Adam's Road Piano will be coming to CPC on 12/6 at 7 p.m. Please join us for a night of music and testimony!
- The Women's Ministry is hosting a Women's Breakfast and Cookie Exchange on 12/8. Look for details in the bulletin or at the Welcome Center at CPC.
- The monthly Men's Breakfast will be meeting off campus 12/8. Look for details in this week's bulletin.
- Our children are putting on a Christmas Play during morning worship on 12/16.
- The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be 12/24 at 7 p.m. Please come and celebrate the birth of the Savior with us!